12/11/17 — A touch of warmth in time for the holidays

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A touch of warmth in time for the holidays

By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 11, 2017 12:24 PM

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Julie Whitfield, left, and Shiril Jackson attach scarves to a light pole on Ormond Avenue Monday morning. The scarves are free to anyone in need. Whitfield came up with idea and was helped by her co-workers in the Wayne County Clerk of Court office.

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Scarves were attached to poles and trees around the Wayne County Courthouse Monday morning. Each scarf had a note attached, "Please take me. I am not lost. Merry Christmas and use this to help stay warm."

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Colorful and warm scarves like this one adorn trees and poles around the Wayne County Courthouse. They are free to anyone in need.

It was cold, very cold.

Despite temperatures hovering near freezing, Julie Whitfield and Shiril Jackson were warmed by their excitement of being able to help others keep warm.

By 7:15 a.m. Monday, the two women, who work in the Wayne County Clerk of Court office, were tying scarves on trees and poles surrounding the Wayne County Courthouse complex.

Each scarf had a note attached, "Please take me. I am not lost. Merry Christmas and use this to help stay warm."

"We included the entire clerk's office and some of the people in the clerk's office donated scarves as well," Whitfield said. "Shiril and I just took it on ourselves to put them out."

It didn't take long for someone to ask about a scarf.

"We already had a lady pick up one," Whitfield said. "She asked if she could have one. She said she was looking for a scarf and coat for her daughter. So we gave her a scarf.

"I got the idea off of Facebook, actually. I saw where someone else in another town had done the same thing. We have put out about 22 scarves this morning. I had some myself. Shiril had some and then Mrs. Pam (Minshew, clerk of court) donated and other people  donated as well."

Whitfield has been planning the project for a couple of weeks.

Originally, she wanted to  place the scarves Friday, Dec. 8, but waited until Monday because of the weekend rain.

The scarves will remain up until they are all gone.

"As people donate more we are going to continue to keep putting them up through December," Whitfield said. "My mom always raised us three girls to give back. It is imbedded in me, and I just enjoy doing it.

"My son and I went to Haiti on a mission trip in 2013 and 2014. It is expensive to go there on mission trips so as he went to college, we couldn't go any more because it is expensive. So this is a way to give back without going to  Haiti --  just do it right here in Wayne County."

Jackson said that when Whitfield mentioned the idea to her that she thought it was truly a blessing.

"We have so much to be thankful for, grateful for," she said. "We come out for our lunches, and we always see people walking who we have made friends with, and we care. That is all about what we do in the clerk's office. We just want to at this time of the year keep someone warm and just let them know that we care."

The clerk's office is a big family, Whitfield said.

"We meet a lot of people (who come) in the clerk's office who are less fortunate," she said. "They are people, too. They are somebody's child, somebody's sibling.

"So they have done wrong. They may have made mistakes, but we all have, and we are forgiven for that. We have to look at these people that way and give them another chance, see if maybe it will help."

Helping others is a family tradition for Whitfield.

With help from her son, she gives out blankets and gift cards as she ride around and sees people who appear in need.

Her church, Eureka Christian Church at Grantham, and friends donate the blankets.

"We get the blankets from the Dollar General and then my mother, Nannie Cotton Mills, she always buys me $5 gift cards," Whitfield said. "She buys me about 20 at the time, even throughout the year for me to give to my homeless friends.

"I give out a blanket and a $5 McDonald's card."

She wishes them Merry Christmas and tells them she has a gift for them.

"I have never had anybody turn me down," Whitfield said. "It is very rewarding."

Anyone interested in making a donation to the scarves project should call the clerk's office at 919-722-6100 and ask for Whitfield or Jackson.